William J. Mathis

What test scores fail to measure

The very standardized attributes that make them valuable cause harm to those things that are truly important for our children and our communities

Like the unexplained monoliths in the classic movie 2001: A Space Odyssey, our standardized test scores float untethered in space - free of the very things they are supposed to measure, yet having great power.

These scores claim to measure “college and career readiness.” Yet it takes no particular insight to know that being ready for the forestry program at the community college is not the same as astrophysics at MIT.

Likewise, “career ready” means many different things depending upon whether you are a health-care provider, a convenience store clerk, or a road supervisor.

The fundamental flaw is pretending that we can measure an educated person with one narrow set of tests. There is no one universal knowledge base for all colleges and careers. This mistake is fatal to the test-based reform theory.

Read More

The risk of living

When looking at cancer risk, can one's exercise regimen make the cut?

Honestly, some discoveries are not worth the trouble of a press release. Our community hospital's newsletter reported last fall that “women who exercised strenuously for more than six hours a week and had no family history of the disease were 23 percent less likely to develop breast cancer." Apparently,

Read More